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In late August, we received formal confirmation from Scottish Ministers and COSLA leaders that Public Health Scotland will be established as a Special Health Board. This is a significant and important milestone in the reform programme and allows us to progress the detailed work to establish the national body in 2019. 

Enabling the new body as a Special Health Board provides many benefits and strengths and will help to facilitate a smooth transition. It offers staff affected by the move certainty and reassurance. It also allows us to use the enabling legislation to establish a new body that looks and feels different - specifically in its accountability and relationship with local government.

With that in mind, the most immediate task is to create the legal basis for Public Health Scotland – bringing together the existing functions of NHS Health Scotland, Health Protection Scotland and Information Services Division and identifying new functions which allow Public Health Scotland to deliver on our ambition for it. 

The programme team has started the process of identifying the senior leadership for the new body. This work will see the Board Chair being in place by Spring 2019 and the Chief Executive in post by the summer of 2019. Board members will also be appointed around the same time as the Chief Executive.

The recruitment process will be led by Scottish Government and COSLA - consistent with our governance and accountability ambitions for reform – and it will focus on ensuring we deliver leadership to support a whole system approach, with the NHS, national and local government, the third sector and communities working together for the public’s health.

Over and above these practical tasks, the work to describe how Public Health Scotland can best support our aspirations continues through the joint commissioning process that partners from across Scotland are leading. The importance of these commissions and their overall contribution to creating Public Health Scotland cannot be underestimated. This is complex and challenging work and we are grateful to the many colleagues who are contributing to the effort in addition to their day job.

The commissioning process has been deliberately designed to embrace a process of co‑production and to bring different people and perspectives together. This is important because we know the task is complex. Success will involve the whole system setting out their ambition of what needs to be different and also what needs to change. 

We recognise that everyone involved has a role to play in shaping how Public Health Scotland - in all that it does – provides momentum for the public’s health and makes a difference in our communities. With this in mind, our first formal staff sessions are taking place at the moment and I will reflect more on the outputs from these in my next blog entry.

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